I’ve had the lead singer from a band come back to the console and ask, ‘What did you do? It sounds so good coming back from the house that I hardly need the monitors.’ I point out that we have new speakers!”
Greg GuyEngineer, Buddy Guy’s Legends
Buddy Guy has been an enduring icon of the Chicago blues for more than half a century, and the octogenarian guitar virtuoso continues a full touring schedule of around 140 shows a year. However, every January, he returns to Buddy Guy’s Legends, his personally owned and family-operated blues club where he holds court for sixteen shows. This year, his annual homecoming benefited from a sonic upgrade with the recent installation of new Meyer Sound ULTRA-X Series loudspeakers for the house and MJF‑210 stage monitors for the performers.
“The new Meyer Sound system is a whole lot clearer than what we had before,” notes Greg Guy, Buddy Guy’s son and regular house engineer at the club as well as an accomplished guitarist in his own right. “It’s the same number of speakers as before, and even though the new ones are much smaller, they actually sound bigger. Buddy’s touring sound engineer came in, walked around the room while listening, and was very happy.”
The prior system had been installed when Buddy Guy’s Legends moved from its original location on the same block to the present larger accommodations in 2010. “It was a good system for its time, and it was still working,” says Charlotte Guy Nunn, Buddy’s daughter and director of operations for the family enterprise. “But it was time to upgrade to the latest technology to take advantage of better performance and reliability. And, of course, Buddy has to like how it sounds, and so far he likes what he is hearing.”
The new system comprises four ULTRA‑X40 loudspeakers for main front and stage side coverage with a discreet ULTRA‑X20 compact loudspeaker for center fill. Potent bass is supplied by two 900‑LFC low-frequency control elements, with a GALAXY 408 Network Platform dedicated to system drive and optimization. The upgrade also included four new MJF-210 stage monitors. The new system was designed, supplied, and optimized by DBS Audio Systems of Coatesville, Pennsylvania under the supervision of Dave Brotman.
Prior to Buddy Guy’s month-long residency, the system was broken in by other Chicago-based and touring blues bands, with Greg Guy behind the mixing console for most shows.
“The improvements in the house system have really been noticed,” says Guy. “I’ve had the lead singer from a band come back to the console and ask, ‘What did you do? It sounds so good coming back from the house that I hardly need the monitors.’ I point out that we have new speakers!”
Guy also appreciates the power and flat response of the new MJF-210 monitors from his dual role as both FOH mixer and on-stage guitarist.
“The new monitors didn’t come in until the second week of my dad’s four-week run,” recalls Guy, “so at that point we switched over from the monitors borrowed from his touring package to the Meyers. My dad noticed the difference. He said he could hear better now, and maybe they should think about taking these new ones out on the road.”
The sonic upgrade also included a new Yamaha CL3 digital mixing console with a RIO 3224 stage box.
Buddy Guy was a co-owner of the famed Checkerboard Lounge on Chicago’s South Side before opening Legends. Living up to its name, the new club has hosted a who’s-who of blues and rock musicians ranging from Willie Dixon, Otis Rush, and B.B. King to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie. Almost as much a museum as a nightclub, Buddy Guy’s Legends has on display the owner’s 34 Blues Music Awards (most for any artist) along with his Kennedy Center Honors, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction trophy, gloves given by Muhammad Ali, and a personal guitar donated by Keith Richards.